To say that the London music scene is overwhelming is like saying winters in Canada are a little bit cold.
The global city we call London has incorporated so many musical influences from everywhere around the world into her own, distinct sound.
Jazz, Reggae, and Hip Hop have all helped shape the landscape of music in this city on the Thames.
And that is quite apart from music genres that originated in London, such as Punk and, more recently, Grime.
In fact, Urban Contemporary music has gained such a foothold that BBC radio set up a channel expressly for the purpose of supporting and promoting those promising musicians.
Still, not everyone in London raps a lyric, or pogoes to a syncopated beat.
Acts such as One Direction, Amy Winehouse, and Wham! all took London – and the world – by storm, each representing a distinctly different ethos.
And, as though there weren’t enough variety in music in ole’ London Towne, you have the majesty of the London Symphony Chorus and no fewer than four conservatories in which to study classical music, all within city limits.
Where does your voice fit, in the rhythm and beat of London? What do you want to learn how to sing?
What station would your brand of singing play on? Source: Pixabay Credit: DG-RA
Have you ever noticed that there are some songs that you can sing comfortably and well, while others feel like you are straining your vocal chords?
That could be because you’ve not yet mastered breathing techniques, or have neglected to warm up your larynx prior to belting out a tune.
Outside of those two vital components of vocal health, if your voice tends to slide into a falsetto on the high notes and/or creaks on the low notes, it could well be that you are singing outside of your range.
Vocal ranges are broadly defined as: soprano, alto, baritone, and bass.
As music theory expounds on the limitations of those basic range designations, they become further defined.
For example, coloratura, lyric and dramatic are all types of soprano, meant for specific musical roles.
There is a danger inherent in classifying one’s voice as any given type, without probing the breadth of its range.
Who remembers singing in the school choir; being placed among fellow students whose voices were so different from yours, and being expected to stay in tune with them?
Singing out of your range, especially without proper warm up, can prove downright harmful to your vocal training.
We will learn more about training your voice a bit later. For now…
Just in case you think we might have overlooked classification of male voices:
The male baritone is the typical voice type of most males; tenor is the highest possible male range.
If you are a true tenor, you would be most welcome in any choir!
Joining a choir is a great way to exercise your voice under direction Source: Pixabay Credit: Intmurr
London City Voices is a community choir that welcomes aspiring vocalists at any of its four branches.
No singing experience is necessary to join them, and you don’t need to know how to read sheet music.
You don’t have to wear a robe or audition in order to earn your spot in their choir, either!
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Their repertoire includes selections from folk, jazz, and contemporary styles, anything from David Bowie to Ed Sheeran, with a bit of ELO thrown in for good measure.
By contrast, City Academy Choirs have arranged their singing groups by genre. After a free taster session, which serves as your informal audition, you could join:
Besides those, you have the choice of joining either of their two mixed-repertoire groups.
Or, you could join several groups, as long as the scheduling suits!
The best part about singing with a choir, besides training your voice, is the opportunity for making new friends.
It is not uncommon for choir groups to head to the pub after rehearsals, just to keep the good vibes kicking!
The point of singing in a choir is, well… to sing. Cultivating your voice is a by-product of harmonizing in a group.
Voice training, on the other hand, is an endeavour that is targeted specifically to developing your vocal techniques, with the ability to sing well being a secondary consideration.
While, in essence, you would develop the same habits for good vocal health through instruction from either a choir director or a voice teacher, the latter is much more focused on your ability to use your instrument to its full potential.
Who, you might ask, besides a vocalist, needs vocal exercises?
In short: it is not only the singer at Wembley that needs a singing teacher.
shouting through a megaphone without proper warm ups is not good for your voice Source: Pixabay Credit: GraphicMama-Team
Before the first note is sung, either in choir or voice lessons, your coach would lead you through warm-up exercises.
First, s/he would assess your posture: head up, shoulders back and adequate tension on your abdomen – to give your diaphragm maximum support in helping push out air.
Next would come breathing exercises. Breathing from your belly is one; another would be to sing numerals as you exhale.
The higher you count, the more developed your breath control!
Finally, you would work on your throat: lip trilling, humming, and running scales would be the order of things at this stage.
At that point, the choir director would lead you through your first song.
A voice coach would go further, teaching you how to expand your range and improve your head voice and chest voice, and work on ear training.
Ear training is the ability to recognise musical elements such as intervals and notes without sheet music; simply by hearing them.
Of course, there would be singing involved. After all, that is why you are seeking out a singing teacher, isn’t it?
Because this is such a musical city, you could go down virtually any given street and find a studio to improve your voice in.
These recommendations come with no endorsement, in no particular order.
Voxbox is unique because they offer group training sessions at no cost.
If you are a beginner, intermediate or already a singing success, you can attend their workshops to gain more singing tips.
Beyond those, they give private lessons and teach formal classes. Naturally, there is a fee charged for them.
Samuel Nichol is a vocal coach intent on helping as many as possible to reach their full potential, whether they want to sing or learn to use their voice more effectively.
Once the head vocal coach at London Music School, he is now established in his own studio, imparting singing techniques to children as well as adults.
The London Music Institute accepts only adults for their comprehensive programs.
They welcome singers of all stripes, from absolute beginners to advanced, at which point your singing teachers will work with you to perfect your singing technique and extend your range.
If you would like to dazzle your mates with your powerful vocals on karaoke night, finding and developing your singing voice with the professionals at LMI would be a great way to do so!
If you are looking for one on one lessons with a voice coach, you might drop in on Soho Vocal Tuition.
Their approach to training your vocal folds is much the same as a physical fitness coach would use to help you get your body fit.
Breathe! Vocal warm up! Exercise the voice! Expand the range! Now: sing!
Although their voice teachers are certainly too polite to bark such orders, they attack vocal lessons with the same passion and dedication as a gym coach would employ to motivate you to get in shape.
What if, for whatever reason, your desire to stay home outweighs your wish to start singing?
Do you fear being in the spotlight? Taking voice lessons can help you gain confidence Source: Pixabay Credit: StockSnap
If you live further away from the capital city, why not find out about voice coaching in Glasgow, singing lessons in Cardiff, vocal coaches in Manchester, Liverpool (birthplace of the Beatles) or even Bournemouth?
If you don’t know where to start in your quest for a London-based singing coach, then why not turn to Superprof to give you a helping hand?
Superprof is a hub for professionals with a particular skill, seeking to pass on their knowledge to pupils. Likewise, those wishing to acquire someone’s expertise and develop on a talent can turn to the website to find a tutor who is perfectly matched to them.
With Superprof, you can search for singing teachers based in London, find those willing to travel to the capital or you can see if there are any group sessions taking place in your borough.
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What if you suffer from horrible stage fright; couldn’t squeak the first note out with someone else in the room?
There is no shame in that, of course. It just means that learning to sing with a teacher online might be a satisfactory option for you to train your voice.
And become more confident, too!
The trick is to find the right teacher; to winnow that long list of Internet search results into the one instructor that helps you relax and learn how to sing better.
Superprof voice coaches would certainly fit that bill.
With more than seven hundred tutors qualified to teach music and singing, surely you could find the most effective mentor for your pitch and tone of voice.
Most of Superprof’s teachers offer their first hour of lessons for free.
That gives you a chance to determine if any given instructor is the right fit for you, and can help you reach your singing goals.
All you need is a decent Internet connexion and Skype; soon you will be on your way to confidence in voice and body.
With a few online voice lessons under your belt, you may find yourself able to sing karaoke, after all!
Whatever method you choose for learning how to sing, just remember that vocal health should always be your first priority, closely followed by finding harmony and joy – both in music and your life.
Once you have all of that, you too can make a splash on the London music scene!
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Gone are the days where you could record your singing voice on a cassette or CD and send it to producers and record labels, in the hope that someone would take the time to listen to your music and offer you an experience of a lifetime. If you want to get noticed in this business, times have moved on and you need to move with the times too.
And we don’t mean that you should instead email your demo over either!
The best way to get your music out there and to stand a chance of someone wanting to turn your songs into money is to perform as much as you possibly can. If you already have a gig at your local pub, look further afield and see if you can get a regular slot at an upbeat place in the capital or, even better, at some of the renowned musical boroughs of London where people who love music go to hear good music, new and old.
It is not unheard of to set up surprise performances in record shops across town to bring that element of surprise and to attract more than just your usual crowd. After all, what is the point of going to the expense and effort of setting up a gig that only your followers know about and will attend? Just start singing in a record shop and then you’ll have a whole new crowd of fans!
One great place to get seen and heard by those in and those interested in the industry is a shop like Rough Trade East, situated in the notoriously arty Brick Lane and comprising of a basement-style shop. Live performances have taken place for years in the compact store but, despite being a relatively small place to play, it has a great impact. Plus, it may not be a sold-out stadium but it’s a great next step from singing in the shower or in your bedroom!
Everybody wants in on the action and music lovers and passers-by end up filling the shop, standing on the stairs to get a glimpse of the artists and queuing out of the door for a chance to hear something new and fresh.
Don’t rule out the idea of busking, too, to get some experience of performing.
If you aren’t into modern indie music and are more inclined towards Broadway, then Barking is your best bet. However, many Broadway stars come from performance schools as opposed to trying to break into the business on their own.
As mentioned above, sending out dozens (or hundreds, if you are very persistent!) can be a really disheartening way to try to break into the music industry, so instead, consider promoting yourself.
Again, one of the best ways to do this is to play for the public, and let success come naturally to you rather than having to chase it down. But you and I both know that it is never as easy as that!
If you want a long and successful stint in the business, you need to think ahead of time how you wish to promote yourself. You may already have a particular style of music that you enjoy making, but is that a sustainable style of music and is it something you want to build a career on?
Furthermore, you need to think about how you wish to come across to your listeners. This means analysing your fashion, your makeup look, your hairstyle and so on. Do you want to be perceived as a bit of a rebel or would you prefer a squeaky clean image?
However good your music or your singing voice is, your image plays a huge part in how popular you may become because everyone is looking for a person to either identify with or someone truly unique that they can aspire to be like.
Even if you have settled on your entire package, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Thankfully, if you live in London, making the right connections and getting regular gigs may be slightly easier than if you were, say, in the middle of the countryside with no buzzing places close to your door.
Promoting yourself properly means ensuring that the right people know where to find you, so think about hiring someone to help you out with social media shout outs, setting up mailings and designing and printing out fliers and posters to inform people of your upcoming gigs or releases.
Even if you are a regular YouTuber and are seeking to attract mainly an online audience, use promotion wisely as you have the scope to reach far more people than you would by just telling your local press. Keeping up a regular schedule and having an up to date social media profile will really benefit you.
While some people are lucky enough to be ‘spotted’, don’t leave it to fate as most VIPs of the music industry don’t happen to just turn up to gigs at random. They will have been invited and have had good reason to want to show up, whether it is the promise of a great show or some other kind of incentive (perhaps a small festival in your local brewery might be enough to tempt them in!).
A simple yet easy thing to do is also to ensure that any mailings are sent to the relevant individuals by name, instead of just sending out mass mailings.
By adding the person’s name, it shows you have taken the time to consider who may be interested in hearing your music and put the effort into finding out their details. A personal email is far more likely to be taken seriously than a mass mailout. You might also like to give them a call first, out of courtesy, to inform them that you are sending material over. But don’t chase them up!
Finally, don’t just target record companies and the like. Even by following other influential people online with a big following themselves, like publishers and PR companies, can potentially give you that exposure you so need.
Those working on predominantly club music may be better off targeting DJ’s.
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It is easier said than done, but try not to get ahead of yourself and set out unrealistic targets.
It can take anything from months to years to get noticed in this competitive line of the arts, so spend time working on yourself and your music and take it one step at a time.
If you’ve ever watched reality television show, The X Factor, one of the biggest and most common criticisms is that artists are just ‘not ready’ for a life in music showbiz, which could be the case for you. Even if you aren’t a young wannabe star as such, you still may need to spend some more time developing your performance.
Be sure to keep releasing new material or performances regularly so that you don’t appear to have gone out of date and are still being active on the music scene.
Similarly, you don’t want to jump at the first opportunity that arises and be too eager. While the first offer may be very tempting because they are the first to put their faith in you, be sure to think it over and discuss it with family, band or your agent (if you have one), to make sure you are making the right decision. Something even better may be just around the corner!
Finally, don’t be disheartened if you get turned down or fail to impress one company or producer. It is all down to a matter of taste, so if the person isn’t a fan of you for whatever reason then you certainly wouldn’t want them representing you!
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